Dozens of Hadassah University Hospital Patients and Staff Tested for TB

Testings for tuberculosis take place after a cancer patient was diagnosed with the disease on Wednesday morning.

Dozens of patients and employees at Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Karem, Jerusalem, are being tested for tuberculosis after a cancer patient was diagnosed with the disease yesterday morning.

The woman came to Hadassah for oncological treatments five days ago from an East European country as part of the hospital's medical tourism business. She contracted tuberculosis 12 years ago and was treated in her home country at the time, but Hadassah doctors think her chemotherapy treatments weakened her immune system and allowed the disease to return.

The hospital's management has decided to change its policies concerning medical tourists who come to Israel for treatment. From now on, those arriving from countries with a high rate of occurrence of TB will be tested on arrival.

The patient was put into isolation and is undergoing treatments for both her cancer and tuberculosis.

Hadassah management called in five other cancer patients, all of whom shared a room with the woman in the past few days, for tests. Dozens of employees who had contact with her are also being tested. The tests include a skin examination and those who have a positive result will receive preventative treatment with antibiotics.

Hadassah said that so far no one else had been found to have been infected.

Last week, Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv reported that 11 of its employees had been infected with tuberculosis, including a doctor and nine nurses. The disease was detected during routine examinations of the staff. Ichilov management blamed the cases on the recent rise in the number of illegal migrants and asylum seekers from Africa who are treated at the hospital. An infant was diagnosed with TB at the hospital in June. Her parents are from Eritrea and her mother was diagnosed with an active case of TB.

A few hundred cases of latent TB are found in Israel every year. In 2010, the Health Ministry reported 344 new cases - 4.5 per 100,000 Israeli residents. These annual numbers have been stable in recent years. Most of those diagnosed with tuberculosis, 87.5 percent, were born outside Israel, mostly in African countries with a high rate of the disease.